Corin Hardy's The Nun is packed full of repetitive jump-scares and haunting images that occasionally distract audiences from its flimsy story and familiar approach. The acting definitely outshines the writing and directing in the latest and one of the weakest Conjuring Universe efforts.
Director James Wan has a talent for creating instant horror icons at the scribble of his pen. With his two Conjuring films, Wan has managed to birth a cinematic universe, which has spawned two character spin-offs and a total of three films. First, there was Annabelle and its prequel and now we have The Nun, which is directed by Corin Hardy and based on a script penned by Wan and Gary Dauberman. The Nun is an R-rated spook show that’s filled with fog and squeaky doors, but very little new content. Its jump-scares are predictable and repetitive and the whole entire experience feels like an exercise in horror movie making.
The film takes place in 1952, at a distant church in Romania. Almost instantly, the cast is established as Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) start investigating a mysterious suicide that unfolds a somewhat insane backstory. The Nun gets credit for hitting the ground running and not wasting too much time on plot or build-up.
The film knows its audience and tries oh so hard to please with jump-scare after jump-scare. There’s a decent amount of blood to top it all off, which makes its R-rating refreshing.
But very little is accomplished through out the film’s sturdy running time. Burke and Irene get separated (several times) and face these demonic presences (and visions) head on in their own way. Most of the time, they fail and end up stumbling into each other, but on occasion they manage to fight off whatever is scaring them silly.
The biggest problem with The Nun is its familiarity in approach. The jump-scares are scattered throughout and timed almost within perfect intervals. This makes them extremely easy to spot and not all that effective after execution.
Director Corin Hardy is no James Wan in terms of atmosphere and structured visual build-up. Wan gives his viewers a better sense of the space he’s working in and then suddenly he drops a huge bomb of a jump-scare right onto your lap, with multiples to follow.
He does this in a way that’s surprising every time and artful in its execution. Patience and timing is the name of the game and The Nun has none of these qualities.
Once the finale starts rearing its ugly head and The Nun suddenly starts connecting with The Conjuring universe as a whole, audiences are left with an empty void in their stomach that hasn’t been filled.
The Nun is far from scary. It’s not even remotely interesting, which is a great big surprise and disappointment for me rolled into one. I quite enjoyed the Annabelle prequel and was hoping that The Nun would be more of that, but instead it side steps and becomes another needless entry in the never-ending universe that Wan has created and should probably stick to directing (or at least have a heavier hand in production).